27 September 2006

Feeling silly


Stay tuned ...

Big blue butt

I just got my 2005 Natz DVD from Paul Weiss ... I don't think I was ready for my close-up ...

When the pack detonates at the start, and Paul goes to the second camera angle, there's my big blue butt hanging out, trying to get my bike untangled! Front and center -- man, does it suck to be me sometimes!

Something to show the grandkids I suppose ...

Kim and I are in Pennsylvania over the weekend, so I probably won’t be updating. See you next week!

Roached

I'm pretty sure part of the reason Lou signed me up to race for The Pony Shop this season is because he knew I'd keep the guys at the shop busy. See, in the bike industry, fall and winter is the "slow time," and it's thanks to crazy folk like me that the repairs keep coming and the income keeps flowing ...

Take last night, for example. I finally got a chance to start putting my bikes back together from last weekend, and what do I find? My rear hub, the one I raced on Sunday, is completely roached. Not just crunchy-roached, but can't-make-the-bearings-turn roached. I don't know that I've every seen a hub so completely bound up, especially given that it's a Ksyrium with cartridge bearings.

Kim helpfully tried to suggest that maybe that's why I was riding so slowly on Sunday ... I wish it were the case, but probably not. More likely, I got too close with the pressure sprayer after the race. At any rate -- Lou, can you write me up a ticket?

ONLY 81 DAYS TO NATZ!!!

26 September 2006

Spreadsheets

Ask anyone at work, and they'll tell you -- I'm not a spreadsheet kind of guy. When the Tailwind organization uses leg chips and publishes a spreadsheet of the race results including lap times, though, it can be a useful training tool ...

All I can say is wow. Baker is an animal. I, on the other hand, am not. Time to regroup and recharge.

Photos available from Renee -- check them out at madcross.org. (And thanks for not publishing all those other photos I saw ...)

ONLY 82 DAYS TO NATZ!!

25 September 2006

Blown

I'm so tired I can't even move right now. I don't know that I've ever been this tired, and I didn't have to finish the last three laps yesterday.

We stopped at Pizza Hut and Culvers on the way home last night. At least I had a salad at Pizza Hut. I'm really craving waffles, maybe this weekend in PA.

Perspective: I have never finished on the podium at a local/regional 'cross race that had a good field. I've been fourth a couple of times. I'm better this year, but let's be realistic -- this weekend was a whole 'nother level. Good news is, it will make me better.

Off to PA on Thursday to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Can't wait. Probably won't blog much, not sure Kim will like that. Besides, I'm more about this:

Paid to play
Americans spend a lot of time goofing off at workbut compaines are cracking down on slackers

TOO TIRED TO DO THE MATH, MAYBE TOMORROW

24 September 2006

Early exit

Rough day. Muddy conditions, and me without experience nor a really good tire setup. OK start, but then started to slip back, literally, losing 1 or 2 places a lap.

By mid lap 2, I had so much mud in my eyes that I couldn't see, and was riding parts of the course with my eyes closed. I slid out way too much, and it was basically a repeat of Natz ...

Eventually I crashed, landed on the shin I injured at Kewaskum. (The Colnago did this really cool bouncing thing, thankfully no damage.) My leg started to swell, I got passed, and my goal of finishing on the lead lap slowly evaporated. I was in for two more laps, made up a spot or two, and got lapped and pulled right at the line.

I ended up 29th, four spots out of the money. Bummer day, but good experience. It will be nice to have next weekend off, and then it's full on to Christmas ...

Blessed relief

Incredible night of sleep after a fun evening of food and stories down in Renee and Dave's room. Bike people do crazy things!

The rain seems to have stopped, so we'll have to wait to the venue to see what the track is like. Can't wait!

Gotta run, coffee's done - not full-sized, but it takes full-size filters!

23 September 2006

Money! but no points

Tough day. Great course, a bit muddy. Decent start, tires not right for conditions, slipped back to about 20th. Then flatted both bikes on same lap! First was 5 feet past pit entrance. Ouch.

Lost places, pitted, flatted again. Lost more. Bike change, in about 30th. SUFFERFEST! Grabbed onto 6th as he lapped, fastest lap was the last, made up 5 spots. In the money!!

HUGE props to Kim and Dave for their work in the pits, and to Renee for the support as she shot photos. THANK YOU ALL!!!!

Oh, and someone needs to cut me off when I haven't slept and have had too much coffee ... I was a total dork to Andy J-M at the start line. Must ... Not ... Open ... Mouth ...

Another chance tomorrow, BRING IT ON!!!

11 hours to go

Thoughts from the couch, 2:30 a.m. Saturday:

Time is finite; there are an infinite number of ways to enjoy it.

Got to bed about 11 last night after prepping and packing; long about 2 a.m., I was wide awake, staring at the ceiling, trying in vain to get some rest. If there's one thing over-racing did for me in the past two years, it at least allowed me to be so tired that I slept the night before races ...

It's strange how I hear sirens at 2:25 a.m. every weekend morning before a race.

No caffeine yesterday, no lunchtime nap, no extra energy spent. But I just can't sleep. I moved out to the couch to see if a change of scenery would help; no dice. I tried a bit of chocolate milk, hoping it would calm my nerves and my growling stomach. It's now 3 a.m., and I'm hoping a little Phil and Paul from a long-ago Tour may lull me into some semblance of rest in the next hour and 45 minutes until the coffeemaker kicks in ...

Thing is, I feel great, and can't wait to pack the car and get rolling. This is going to be a kick-ass weekend.

ONLY 11 HOURS TO UCI NO. 1!!!!!!!!

22 September 2006

You say it's your birthday!?!?!!

This blog is to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! to my very favorite niece! She'll be a big THREE on Sunday. Since Aunt Kim and Uncle Chris will be in Detroit, we had a practice birthday last weekend with the in-laws ...

Just what every girl needs, a wrapping-paper hat!

Check out the cake and cupcakes Aunt Kim made! Kaylie made them pretty with sprinkles!

What a smile!!!!!

Pajamas and new shoes. What more could a girl ask for?

AA or BJM?

So BJM may have been a rumor for this weekend, but Andy Applegate isn't ... GULP ...

I hope this works in my favor ...

Tristan has his race schedule posted at his blog -- thing is, all the dates are a month ahead, meaning he expects this weekend to be 10/23-24, not 9/23-24. I just hope that means he forgets to set his alarm and start driving today ...

I am really excited about this weekend, but I have to be realistic. Scoring points (Top 10 placing) is going to be a very, very tall order. I'll have a much better chance in Nebraska and Kansas City (since I have to miss Cinci), given the company who will be there tomorrow ...
  • Tristan Schouten, Trek/VW MTB pro and 15th and 3rd last year (not to mention 8th at Natz)
  • Jeffweinert.blogspot.com, Michigan stud, 6th and 9th last year, pulled out of 35+ race with just one lap to go while in the top 10 at Natz
  • Doug Swanson, another Trek/VW MTB pro. Won Chequamegon last year, 2nd this year ... to MTB superstar JHK
  • Ben Jacques-Maynes (so I hear), 7th at USPro a few weeks back

And those are just the ones I know! According to one of the guys at KISSCross, "everyone is going to be there" with the exception of Ben Turner. If it's anything like last year, we're looking at names like Powers, Baker, Kelly, Hodges Myerson rounding out the field. Holy crap!

On the plus side, this was one of the few UCI races that Nate Rice was able to do before he broke his wrist -- he scored 9th place on Saturday, so maybe, JUST MAYBE I've improved enough since February to pull out a stellar result. More realistic, top 20, top 15 would be awesome. Then again, who would have thought I'd even be contemplating that a year ago?

On the plus side, TONS of rest this week, I am JAZZED, and more eager to hit the circuit than I know. Nothing can get me down today -- I have a permanent smile attached to my face. This weekend is going to be awesome, no matter what -- it's Christmas!

By the way, HUGE props to Lou, who offered to let me borrow his wheelset this weekend. That means running tubulars on both bikes, a huge advantage if the weather turns sour. THANK YOU!!!

21 September 2006

KISSCross phlog

There managed to be a short reprieve on Blogger's photo problems, just enough time for me to upload some shot from Sunday ... the first few photos are mine; anything with me in it are from KISSCross!

Here are the troops, ready for battle
This was the killer rock that forced the re-route of the course at the last minute. Whew!
The first run-up of the year, and it was a doozy!
Off-camber action; I caught a pedal once through here but managed to save it!
The race begins; good start, I'm in fourth! (Jeffweinert.blogspot.com is already ahead)
Up to third by the first time charging through the barriers!
The long, lonely road
Trying to power the course
Fun times, great course, great crowd!
ONLY 29-1/2 HOURS TO UCI NO. 1!!!!

48 hours

I just spent $26

This 'cross habit is getting expensive -- 'cross itself is relatively cheap, but it's all the little stuff ... like videos of the 2005 Natz in Providence ...

http://www.paulweiss.bz/videos.html#2005

Just $23 and $3 for shipping. And he takes PayPal or credit card -- when you pay by PayPal, it's not like using real money, is it?

ONLY 52-1/4 HOURS TO UCI NO. 1!!!!

Wimping out ... again

It's hard to believe we're just over 48 hours away from the opening of the UCI season here in the states! I've been building this up in my mind for so long, it's a relief that it's finally here. I just hope I'll be able to sleep the next two nights ... sometimes my adrenaline gets the better of me, and it gets worse the more excited I get!

(Just ask Kim or my Mack teammates from the past two years. There were nights -- no lie -- where I was getting up and out of bed every 40 minutes for 5 or 6 hours because of nerves/adrenaline. Not great for recovery!)

Kim and I planned to camp this weekend, that is, until I saw this (still no photos on Blogger):
http://www.weather.com/weather/weekend/USMI0217?from=36hr_topnav_undeclared

So I wimped out and ordered us up a hotel down in Auburn Hills. It's only about 20 minutes away from the race venue, and I just called to confirm that they have a full-size coffee maker in each room ... mmm ... coffee ...

I also got some great intel on the course from a guy at KISSCross -- he's the announcer on Saturday, and says he'll give me and The Pony Shop a nice shout-out! Awesome!

And in news from across the pond, JP seems like he has arrived and been accepted by the front group ... check out the results from Steenbergcross and Aalterse Jaarmarkttrofee -- I wonder who will get the first call-up at Nats if he decides to come? Then again, sounds like his bad-luck streak of crossing the Atlantic continues ...
ONLY 53 HOURS TO UCI NO. 1!!!!

20 September 2006

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

Blogger still won't let me post photos from this weekend, so I leave you with these. I had a dentist appointment last night ...

The management group who runs the building in which my dentist is located has some serious issues. You can't make this stuff up.




ONLY 88 DAYS TO NATZ!!

19 September 2006

KISSCross Grand Rapids

Blogger still isn't letting me post photos, maybe their scheduled outage at 4 p.m. will help. Here's a bit of a report from Sunday anyway ...
Thanks to JeffWeinert.blogspot.com, I managed to find a 'cross race Sunday, a week before the UCI events in Detroit. It was a lot of fun -- very low-key ("we race for beer"), not much more of a drive than Madison, and there was even some pretty impressive competition -- jeffweinert.blogspot.com and Russ Tiles, who both scored UCI points in Detroit last year, and Mike Wissnick from Specialized, among others (including at least one domestic road pro). Jeffweinert.blogspot.com has a great write-up of the race from the front, and a pic of me in 3rd place the first time through the barriers ...

Jeffweinert.blogspot.com just drilled it, and I hung on until the second lap. After that it was all alone in 4th, 10 times up that brutal hill, but by the end I was gaining on 3rd place, making up 10-15 seconds per lap, and only missed the podium by 20 seconds or so. It was such an awesome way to start the season, so much better than last year. It'll be a lot of fun to line up against the big guns next week and see how I stack up ...

Here are a couple of photos from my perspective -- more to come as Blogger allows.
This is sunrise over Lake Michigan. I had to remember to keep driving east, not southwest -- no Palos this week!


The season's first barriers.

I had such a huge smile on my face; as soon as I saw the course markings once I got off the freeway, I was STOKED! I've been talking about 'cross all year, and now it's finally here -- and living up to the hype!

ONLY 89 DAYS TO NATZ!!!!

18 September 2006

No photos yet

I shouldn't complain, given that Blogger is free, but it sure is a pain in the butt when you're trying to upload photos and they're just not working. Sorry folks. In the meantime, check out the photos from the KISSCross site ...

17 September 2006

Mmmmm ... beer

I didn't win any beer today, but I did have one heck of a better first 'cross race than last year! I also got to experience the Chicago Skyway with 50+mph crosswinds, lashing rain, and a thermometer that dropped an impressive 14 degrees in the span of just 3 minutes -- OUCH!

As much fun as it is playing mountain biker, I couldn't wipe the grin off my face on my first pre-ride lap. This was a true 'cross course, and I was home. God it's good to be back!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Phlog to come tommorow ... started well, was third place until halfway through the first lap (of 10), got passed, moved to fourth, gapped on the second lap, drove on alone and by the end was closing the gap back to third (10-15sec a lap, even lap times w/ 2nd place), finished just 20sec back. Killer run-up -- I didn't think I'd make it 10 times! Fun group, real laid back, nice way to start the year!

Next week is going to be PAINFUL ... all the big names are supposed to be there ... yeah baby!

Butt-crack of dawn

At least at WORS races I've been able to sleep until 5:30 or so. This morning I gave up the ghost at 4:15. Cross is in the air.

Great breakfast, good DVD, self-massage coming up before the drive. They're saying 80 and mostly sunny all day.

Good showing by the WORS guys up north. JHK finally gets a Triple Crown monkey off his back. Then Swanson, Hall, Matter, Brown. Someday maybe ...

ONLY 91 DAYS TO NATZ!!!

16 September 2006

WWJD?

What an awesome day! Easily my best day yet on the mountain bike -- conditions were good, the ride is DIALED (thanks John!), and the company was challenging ...

Met up with Jeremy (aka Mountaingoat) up at Kettle, bright and early. Just as I was getting ready, Bob Shrank rolled in. Jeremy said we'd do a short loop and come back for him ... I was expecting the easy red trail, but NO -- he drags my a$$ all the way around the white trail and back to the parking lot in not much more time than it used to take me to do the red ...

That sort of set the tone for the rest of the day. Jeremy led the way, I followed as closely as I could, and Bob was behind me. Jeremy took it easy after several days off the bike -- easy enough that through some of the tough stuff, I was able to follow closely and watch how he picked his lines. He was rolling Mr. Bigg, a cool-looking 29er single-speed that had to be tough out on the Emma Carlin hills ... (which, thanks to the lockout John installed, I CLEANED! I only walked the very end of the first one ... so stoked!)

He dropped me a couple of times, mainly because I wasn't paying attention for one reason or another. (He could have dropped me many more, I'm sure!) It was during one of these times, as he rolled away on the Emma Carlin section, after I had been following him for more than an hour, that I found myself picking lines and asking "What Would Jeremy Do?" It may not have been much for him, but I was riding above and beyond any of my previous adventures -- SUHWEEET!

Eventually we picked up a passenger, Dave from Michigan by way of Elgin. He was kind, and stayed behind me through the rest of the ride, allowing me to plow my way through on clean and not-so-clean lines. He was clearly holding back, but I appreciated the companionship ... at some point I flatted, just before the parking lot, no biggie ... Dave and I did an extra Muir loop to finish off, not nearly as fast as we were going the first time through -- trying to chase Jeremy back to the cars!

Even better -- NO CRASHING!!! I definitely saw a progression today, and I'm excited to take that to the races. I'm nowhere near the league of guys like Mountaingoat, but at least I don't think I'll be totally left in the dust when Don shouts GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

OK, I have a 3-year-old who wants to play with Uncle Chris. Need to go! Ride hard!

Apocalypse now

So I'm getting ready to go meet the Goat, whom some might say is the very incarnation of evil ... and what's the first thing I see this morning?

The thermometer reads 66.6.

ONLY 92 DAYS TO NATZ!!!

15 September 2006

Good luck!

Good luck to all the "real" Midwest mountain bikers as they take on JHK and others this weekend in the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival ... OK, that's not the right sentiment for a 1,700-rider field and giant weekend party ... how about have fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The rest of us all seem to be heading to Kettle -- it's open again after 4 inches of rain Monday-Tuesday, and parties are leaving at 8 and 9 a.m. tomorrow from the parking lot. Suhweeet! I'm in the 8 a.m. group, but may loop back to pick up more folks at 9 ...

See you on the trails!

John is the man

Ever since I started this blog, I've talked about what a great job the guys at The Pony Shop do. They've taken in my poor, beat-up rides and turned them into amazing steeds that have carried me on adventures across the country and around the world.

Through it all, though, I have neglected to mention the awesome ability of one Pony Shopper in particular: John Schultz. John has been there as long as I can remember, always quick to pick up a ticket and help out when I come crawling in the door with a sheepish look on my face. I really appreciate all that he does -- without him, I'd have been screwed more than once.

This week, John has gone above and beyond. The Rush needed a few tweaks after the beating it's been taking, and John has stepped up big-time -- pushing through repairs and making changes that will have me back on the bike and riding better than ever in no time. He's the man when it comes to mountain bikes -- letting me borrow some awesome videos and guiding me through this maze of new terminology and technology that I'd always heard about but was afraid to follow. Now I'm a convert.

John, thanks a lot -- I owe you some beer!

* The photo at the top is not the "real" John Schultz. This is an imposter who thinks he's the man, just because he has the same name. He's not. John's the man.

ONLY 93 DAYS TO NATZ!!

14 September 2006

This is gonna' hurt ...

Tracking Number: 78096
Request Date: 09-11-06
Status: Closed and Approved
Date Closed: 09-14-06
Member: Chris Strout
Request Type: License Category Change
Description: schriss - 2006-09-11 12:16
License: INTL XC
Request to change category from Beginner to Expert

This request was approved

ONLY 94 DAYS TO NATZ!!

13 September 2006

A new ice age?

Kim had to watch an ├╝ber-cheesy natural disaster flick for school last weekend ... now I'm wondering if Dennis Quaid is a prophet ...

Tom Skilling
WGN-TV chief meteorologist
After weekend 80s, temperature plunge may lead to first 50s in 4 months
Published September 13, 2006

Each day of September last year reported temperatures of at least 80 (degrees). It's been a far different story this year. ... Chicago is in for some impressive temperature gyrations ... Powerful cold frontal thunderstorms Sunday night are to segue into a two day temperature pullback which could, by Tuesday next week, plunge the area into its first daytime highs in the 50s since last May 14's high of 56 (degrees). ... Weather records here dating back 136 years to 1871 indicate the long-term average first date of a 50 (degrees) or lower temperature is on or about Oct. 16.

At least this year it will feel like 'cross season!

Schedule update

Oooooh! oh! oh! I forgot the most important schedule update of them all!

Because Kim and I will be in Detroit next weekend, which just happens to be Kaylie's 3rd birthday, this Saturday we get to have a

PRACTICE BIRTHDAY!!!!

I'm so excited -- apparently Kari wasn't sure about our plans, so when she told Kaylie that she would have a practice birthday with her Aunt Kim, the first thing Kaylie asked was whether Uncle Chris would be there too!

Sched · ule [SKEJ-ool; Brit. SHED-yool]

The past couple of days have brought about some schedule changes over the next few weeks. It's all good; unfortunately I'm going to miss some UCI races, but there are pretty good alternatives instead.

First off, I was all set to go up to Kenosha for a Parkside crit this Sunday -- until I found this! I have heard about KISSCross, but didn't realize they had a season opener this weekend -- sign me up! Yahoo Maps says it's only 3:08 to get there; Google says 3:48 ... Kim says she doesn't want to set the alarm earlier than 5 a.m. So I'll either drive fast or just get dressed really quickly ...

I'll be making the trip alone, it seems -- Kim has to do homework this weekend, and none of the other Chi-cross folks are up for a roadtrip just yet. I'm just happy to get a 'cross race in before Detroit, and they race for beer ... mmmmm, beer.

Next weekend is still the first domestic UCI race on Saturday, with another on Sunday in Detroit. Looks like it'll be a lot of double chins and bowling pins for me over the next couple of weeks ... not to mention some wicked-fast racing!

The following weekend Kim and I go to Gettysburg, to visit the B&B we stayed at during our honeymoon. (Yes, we got married in May, and this brings to a close our "official" 10-year celebration events ...) We're going to get out on the trails of the Michaux State Forest, home of the infamous Iron Cross event. We also get to visit my aunt, uncle and cousin in Baltimore, eat lots of great Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, visit the Holocaust museum, and just relax and unwind before the craziness really gets rolling.

I spend that whole week in work meetings (it's the National Sales Event), before heading to Sheboygan on October 7 for the WORS race on 10/8. It's the WORS finale, and I hear it's a real kicker -- should be a blast! (This was supposed to be my first trip to Gloucester, but with work it just didn't work out.)

The next weekend was going to be the Ohio UCI race, but my dad just had to go and turn 60 that week! So we'll be staying local, going to the Evanescence concert (I get to go after all!) thanks to 95.1 WIIL on Saturday night and racing either Lapham or C'ville on Sunday before dinner with the family. C'ville almost ruined me last year, so maybe it'll be good to get revenge?

After that, it's race-race-race-and race some more, all the way to Christmas! Bring it on!

ONLY 95 DAYS TO NATZ!!

12 September 2006

Extreme, baby, extreme!

I told Kim before the race that I had a good number -- 1411. Whenever I get something with 11 in it, it's a good day.

Photos from Extreme Photography Unlimited:

Up and over the piping -- is that fear on my face?

Rail that grassy berm! -- maybe just intense concentration?

Apparently I'm not the only one who thought Sunday was great training for Detroit ...

Bursting with Sun!

Here's a phlog from Kewaskum on Sunday ...

This is before ...

... and this is after.

There really were fish, but I didn't see any of them walking on water.

The start of the singletrack climb.

But this is what most of the course looked like.

The Corner. Hardest part of the course. And I didn't crash there!

Me chasing down a chick. What price glory?

Here I am telling Kim what I need while riding in the lead. Canada/Minnesota guy would go on to drop my sorry ass just a few minutes later.

Not only does she know how to feed, she takes cool action shots!

ONLY 96 DAYS TO NATZ!!

10 September 2006

Great 'cross practice!

Blogger isn't letting me upload photos, so I'll get them up when I can. In the meantime, here's the weekend report!

Pre-ride
We got up to Kewaskum on Saturday afternoon, and the Goat was right – this was all about ‘cross. We set up camp next to the fishing/snowmaking pond, wondering how they filter the fish from the man-made snow cannons …

I saddled up and took a preride. There was some singletrack, one nasty corner with rocks and roots, and mostly it was wide-open doubletrack ... Perfect for a ‘cross racer, especially in the cold weather!


Pre-race
Saturday morning was pretty uneventful, and I did an easy spin before chilling out – literally! It was cold up there all weekend, but thankfully we avoided the rain until after the race. I had spent some time visualizing my race the night before, and I was ready. I snaked my way into the second row again, just behind the call-ups, and waited for the GOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Lap 1
In what had to be a first for me, the race opened exactly as I visualized. I hit the first corner in 5th, hid out in the crosswind across the base of the hill, and attacked in the last widetrack as we crested to take the holeshot into the singletrack. Holy crap, I was in first place!

Only one guy managed to come with me, and when I bobbled in the rocky corner, he shot past me. It was one of the Polska dudes, and his bright white and red jersey made a perfect target. Unfortunately, my bars caught a small tree on the second singletrack section, and I took a big chunk out of my left shin! I simultaneously hit a rock, and started freaking out that I’d flatted my rear wheel … I had awesome traction in the corners, but I was super-afraid of rolling a tire for the rest of the race! (For the record, not flat, I was running my tires low because of the new doubletrack. D’oh!)

Lap 2
I catch Polska across the base of the Sunburst ski area, and he’s struggling. I take the lead going through the singletrack again, and by the time I’m out of it, so is he … blown and goodbye! I spend most of this lap on my own in first place, I think I hear the announcer calling my name, and I'm, using women and elites as rabbits – Kim got a great photo of me ferociously chasing down some poor elite woman ...

Lap 3
Just as I reach the climb, so does a guy in a Canada jersey. He was from Minnesota. Go figure. I lead up the climb again, but he’s on me. He passes me on the long, fast downhill as I take a Clif Shot, but I catch him again across the base. So that’s how this is going to be, ‘eh dere?

Lap 4
He asks me if I want to lead him up the singletrack, but I’m cramping and my front shifter isn’t working right, and let him go first. We fight past some lap traffic, and he gets another gap. I chase him down again, and it’s status quo at the beginning of the next lap.

Lap 5
Same thing. I again decline to lead. We crawl up the singletrack, and by the time we emerge, a 40+ rider has almost bridged the gap. That, and I lost Minnesota’s wheel on the climb again – I was hurting. I hit the woop-de-do section at the top, enter the next singletrack, and BAM!!!!! I smash the other side (right this time) into a small sapling. 40+ dude is past me in a flash, and I remount even though my handlebars aren’t exactly straight …

Thankfully, no more really tough singletrack, and I’m in damage control mode. Try as I might, I just couldn’t close the gap this time, and with Tristan Schouten screaming past me in my closing minutes (elites did one more lap but left 5 minutes before Comps), I hung on for dear life to cross the line 4th overall and 2nd in the age group. As the rain started coming down, I got to stand on my first WORS podium!

Thankfully Kim drove home, as my shin started swelling badly and I was having trouble walking. All in a day’s work, I suppose – but I REALLY need to learn to stay upright! I lost by just 40 seconds, and I’ll give you two guesses as to where I lost them … I spent the evening watching a movie and using this cool leg icer my mother-in-law got for her knee surgery – it manages to ice my shin and my thigh simultaneously!

I owe Kim a big thanks too for climbing up the mountain to feed me and take pictures. She’s the best, shouting encouragement and giving me exactly what I needed every time … THANK YOU!!!!

Needless to say, the weekend was a lot of fun, and gives me some encouragement with our first ‘cross races just 2 weeks away … I’ve got no hope of catching Tristan, but I’m not afraid of the big, bad grass courses anymore!
ONLY 98 DAYS TO NATZ!!!
P.S. No entry tomorrow, out of respect for the day.
Be sure to tell someone close to you how much you love them when you leave for work in the morning.

08 September 2006

Key - WAH - scum

It's sort of funny to be following the progress of the weather forecast on the WORS board -- it seems that the course for this weekend isn't too much to write home about, mostly grassy hills and just a little bit of singletrack. You can see from the comments by Mountaingoat in the last entry that without rain, it's not that exciting for WORS regulars ...

... but for me, it sounds PERFECT ... mmmmm ... grassy hills ... reminds me of 'cross ...

Key - wa - scum

I don't want to jinx it, so I'll just point out the weather forecast for this weekend up in the north dere 'eh:

http://www.weather.com/weather/weekend/USWI0362?from=36hr_topnav_undeclared

Along with today's full moon and tomorrow morning's massage appointment, it should be a good one!

Feeling funky

Today is a really bad day at work. I hate to say that, and put the whole day in a funk, but it can't be helped.

On the ride in, even my bike kept wanting to turn away and not go to the office. That's when you know it's going to be rough. At least it's Friday, and at least I didn't get any lip from those car-driving mofos today!

On a positive note, I started interval training this week. Wednesday night was microintervals, which I did out at the track -- it was nice to run into Mark Harris and his really cute daughter Elle out there -- gave me a great excuse to separate my intervals into two sets while I stopped to talk to them. Not sure what the power numbers are yet, but the legs felt nice and toasty afterward, as I crawled home ...

Then last night I took the Rush out to the Des Plaines River Trail in search of singletrack. I went south this time, and found some interesting trails -- not a lot of flow out there, most of it was really tight and technical/slow. Not great training for what I hear is a wide-open course in Kewaskum on Sunday, but good practice nonetheless. Good thing, too, as my legs were still feeling it a bit from Wednesday. I eventually worked my way north to practice bunny hopping and jumping in the woods by Dundee Road -- the jumping went well; the bunny hopping not so. Not sure what my problem was, but one direction I was fine, the other I kept bashing my rear wheel ... (sorry Lou!)

Both last night and this morning I saw more deer out there than I could count -- a lot of them were really pretty little ones, all doe-eyed and such, and I even saw one young buck yesterday that still had velvet on his antlers. Pretty cool.

Also good news, the cold that decided to take up residence in my head for the past 2-3 weeks is almost gone. One more night of good sleep, and I'll be good to go. Just in time, too -- next week's training should be a doozy!

Ooooh! Oh, oh oh! I finished the book last night. It was pretty cool -- if you have any interest in historical fiction, especially if it relates to vampires, be sure to check out The Historian. Thanks Tammy!

ONLY 100 DAYS TO NATZ!!!
AND ONLY 15 DAYS TO UCI NO. 1!!!!!!!!

07 September 2006

Congrats!

So it's a day late and a bit short, but congrats to Team Clif Bar Midwest for extending their Clif sponsorship for another 2 years. These guys have been tearing up the Cat. III scene in the Midwest, and it's a big coup for Joel, Eric and the guys -- that kind of stability is rare in domestic amateur cycling, and will do wonders for their up-and-coming strongmen ...

And for a laugh, check this out: Twenty-One Signs That Your Season is Close to an End

This is a sure sign that the "silly season" is upon us ... stay tuned ...

Guilty?

From the Tribune:

Jones cleared: 'B' sample negative

I find this the most interesting passage:
While a non-confirming "B" test is rare in doping cases, it occurs more frequently in those involving EPO, because the reading of the results leaves significant room for interpretation. According to Jacobs, the decision to report Jones "A" sample as positive was a "close call."

If you've been following doping news at all, you have no doubt heard about micro-dosing of EPO -- essentially breaking up smaller doses over a longer period of time. According to experts, this is one way to cheat the tests -- I have to wonder if the "close call" has something to do with that ... I hate to be a cynic, but for some reason I have a hard time believing Jones' professed innocence in the face of mounting evidence ...

ONLY 101 DAYS TO NATZ!!

06 September 2006

Second verse, same as the first

So there I am, tooling along Walters Avenue again on my way to work. This time, so there was no doubt, I was firmly on the right side of the lane, to the left of the white line separating the on-street parking. I was following every traffic law, minding my own business, fantasizing about maybe seeing the white Caddy again and dropping a "Rules of the Road" pamphlet into his sunroof ...

In almost the exact same spot, all of a sudden I'm getting honked at! This time, it was a blue minivan, and as he passed me the passenger gesticulated at me through his window. I just let them go, ignoring them, and continued on at the same pace -- but they got caught by the light, just like the Caddy last week!

As I rolled up, the passenger had his window down, a big, beefy arm sticking out. I went past on the right, going straight as they were turning, and the guy starts yelling at me! Thanks to my very full sinuses, I couldn't hear a word he said, so I just shouted back "Learn the rules of the road!" and kept going. Of course, just like last week, a Northbrook cop saw the whole thing and just ignored it ...

It's almost enough to make you only want to ride trails!

ONLY 102 DAYS TO NATZ!!

04 September 2006

Two, two, two in one!

This weekend Kim and I entered the other world of “multisport” – numbers pinned to the front, written in ink on our arms and legs, transition areas and chip timing … I saw something about the Trail Shark Duathlon way back in March or April, and I knew it was something I needed to try. A 2-mile trail run followed by a 9-mile mountain bike followed by another 2-mile trail run sounded like fun, and somehow I talked Kim into it as well. So we made camping reservations, trained all summer, and got ready to rock!

We got our first omen when we pulled into our campground, told the lady we had reservations, and go the reply: “Reservations? We don’t take reservations. We haven’t for 2 years!” We were at Jubilee College State Park outside of Peoria, while our reservations (and one-night fee) were down at Moraine View south of Bloomington. D’oh! Thankfully, we’ve been to Jubilee before, and managed to get our favorite spot anyway …

(It was weird. Despite it being a holiday weekend, we only shared the tent meadow with at most 2-3 other campers all weekend, and we were all so spread out that it was like we were all alone! (And Moraine View doesn't have any MTB trails!)

This is how we spent most of the weekend, our feet up, reading and hanging out. We did manage to ride some of Jubilee’s trails on Saturday, but for the most part we were just relaxing and enjoying absolutely perfect, bug-free weather. We also got to cook out – here’s me creating perfection. (a.k.a, campfire apple pies – if you’ve never had apple pie from a pie tin before, you are missing one of life’s finer pleasures!)

We didn’t get that much sleep on Saturday night, once the animals from the forest started trying to rummage in our cooler. Thankfully it stayed closed, but we were awake from about 2:30 a.m. until we got up at 4:15 – not the best way to get ready for a race! It did give us a few extra minutes to get ready, and we rolled into Timber Pointe with enough time to pre-ride the bike course.

Thank goodness we did! All summer, I told Kim to be ready for wide-open bridle paths and a nice easy run course. I even told her I was worried the bike would be too easy, and that I wouldn’t be able to gap other racers. Nope! I knew when I hit the first log crossing that we were in for some fun – the ride course was 40% tight, twisty singletrack, and the run was more like 80%, and even had its own log jumps!

Here we are, just before the start: I opted for the mountain bike (over the cross bike), and we went to get our transition set up. They called us to the line, gave us instructions, and I marked the ones to watch … especially a little guy in a tri-suit. He was the one to beat, or so I thought.

We got the countdown, and it was go time! One guy shot off from the left like a rocket, gone around the first bend seemingly before any of us could catch a breath. I found my legs and settled in with 2nd through 5th (which included tri guy), staying steady and making sure all systems were go as we got moving. I lost a few seconds when I missed a turn, so by the time we came back through to T1, I was in fourth place.

But now was the bike, and I knew it was my time to shine. I blew past third place as we entered the singletrack – and saw first place take a sweeping dive on the wet grass! Maybe that was my chance! I gunned it hard, gradually reeling in second place tri-guy until I snaked past him on the second lap …

Somewhere in there I passed Kim, who was having an awesome bike leg. She was on her fully rigid hybrid – not the best for those conditions! In fact, I had done a warmup lap on my ‘cross bike before opting for the MTB, that’s how tight and technical it was. So she was kicking some major butt!

I got time checks here and there, and heard I was gaining on first place. I had harbored a secret hope that he was a relay participant, but no such luck – the glimpses I caught through the trees showed that indeed, it was the same guy who jumped off the line at the start. And even though I was gaining, he was clearly a runner with a huge engine – if only I had known just how huge!

At T2, he was just leaving as I was pulling in; he was 35 seconds up on me as we started the run. I had 2 minutes in hand on third place, and I was grateful for that as the stomach cramping started almost as soon as I hit the ground. I pushed as hard as I could and could just feel the power draining from my legs and body – thankfully the run was only 2 miles, just under 14 minutes of suffering! First place was gone and out of site, so I worked as hard as I could to preserve 2nd …

… and I did it! Just as I was crossing the finish line, Kim was heading out on her last bike leg, so I was able to give her a big thumbs up and a bit of a cheer. I crossed the line in 1:07 flat, more than 5 minutes faster than last year’s winning time – the time I had been aiming for all summer in an effort to pull out the victory.

Unfortunately, that was also 2 minutes slower than the winner – yes, I lost 90 seconds on the last run. (Heck, I lost almost a minute to the tri guy too, when you include the transition time!) But as I was waiting for Kim to come in, I found out why I didn’t have a chance in the run sections: the winner was the 2002 NCAA indoor mile champion (and 2003 bronze medalist in the German national championships), who had been on track to make the Athens Olympic team until a plantar wart sidelined him at the Trials. That’s some serious competition! At least I beat everyone on the bike leg – I would have been really bummed if I hadn’t!

I caught Kim again as she headed out for her run – she was pretty worked, but was doing great to control it. This was the first time she had ever raced anything, so she was putting herself through new levels of pain that training can never teach you. She had her breathing under control, she was sort of smiling, and she was learning to feed off the energy of all the volunteers and other racers who were cheering her on … And, the biggest bonus, she had passed people on the bike leg, so she was PUMPED!

I waited at the finish line, and then there, in the distance, was Kim, looking great! She crossed the line looking strong, and took a few minutes to cool down and catch her breath. It was quite a tough event, far harder than I had predicted, and she did awesome! Her bike leg was one of the top 10 for the women, and put her far ahead of some of the other competitors. With a little more run training and the right bike for the tough course, who knows? We may have created a monster!

Awards were announced soon after, and Kim got second in her age group! What an awesome finish for her! I was keeping track of the times they announced with the finishers, and I think I realized it just before she did – just in time to get out the camera and snap a shot of her collecting her “AWARD WINNER” victory towel!

For my efforts, I won a homemade rattle and a bit of coin – the race organization was very generous! All in all, it was a well-run event, and I look forward to maybe doing it again someday!

ONLY 103 DAYS TO NATZ!!

01 September 2006

Good on ya'!

Kurt Grohl, aka Dave Refsnider
From the Chicago Tribune:

Dave Grohl Says Beer Offer Is Still Good
By Associated Press
Published September 1, 2006, 6:25 AM CDT

SYDNEY, Australia -- Dave Grohl says he plans to make good on an offer to buy beers for two miners who listened to his band, the Foo Fighters, during their ordeal of being buried underground for two weeks.

Grohl said he will catch up with the two men when the band tours Australia in October.

"You know what? I'm not just having one beer with those dudes -- we're going for it," the 37-year-old rocker told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio Thursday. "This is going to be a big night."

Brant Webb, 37, and Todd Russell, 34, spent two weeks trapped underground when the mine they were working in at Beaconsfield in Australia's southern Tasmania state collapsed in May. As rescuers painstakingly dug an escape tunnel, the pair were handed music players among other things to help keep their spirits up.

When Grohl heard that Webb had requested that Foo Fighters music be downloaded onto the player, he sent a message of support -- and offered to buy them a cold beer.

Webb and Russell, who became celebrities in Australia after their escape, did not immediately comment, but their manager, Sean Anderson, said they would likely be happy to accept Grohl's offer.

"I'm sure they will be very keen to meet him," Anderson said.

BHP 322

I got buzzed on the way to work this morning. Normally this is no big deal; truth be told I'm sort of used to it -- at least on busy streets with traffic and high speed limits. But this was a nice, two-lane street, with "Share the Road" signs on it!!!!, and by luck of the draw, the driver got stopped at the light we were approaching. So I rode up next to him.

"You know, you didn't have to drive so close to me back there," I shouted through his sunroof.

"You shouldn't have been riding on the white line," he says as he rolls down his window.

"I'm not supposed to ride in the parking lane, so I was over as far as I could," I said [I know this isn't entirely true, but with no oncoming traffic, there was no reason for him to get so close.]

"Well, then you shouldn't be on the road."

"I have every right to be on this street -- haven't you seen the 'Share the Road' signs?"

And he was gone.

Sad part is, the cop behind us saw the whole thing and just let it go. I'm sort of proud of myself -- I was fairly calm (sort of), I didn't swear or threaten him, and I got his license plate. I'm debating what to do -- I maybe should have stopped at the police station (that was a block away), but I was already running late, and what good would it do anyway? Instead, I'm harboring thoughts of ponying up the $40 for a DMV lookup, and burning wooden bicycles in the guy's lawn.

At any rate, for those of you in Northbrook, be on the lookout for a white caddy, Illinois license plate BHP 322. Caucasian male, bluetooth earpiece more or less permanently stuck to his head. Arrrrrgggggghhhhhh ...

ONLY 107 DAYS TO NATZ!!